Cal’s biggest sporting event of the year is here. It’s not football, it’s not basketball, it’s not even what your third guess probably was — it’s Cal track and field’s annual Big Meet.
The Bears will compete against Stanford University this Saturday at Edwards Stadium, continuing the teams’ historic rivalry. The Big Meet has been going on since 1893, with this year’s competition acting as the 124th time the two schools will face off.
“For one week, nothing matters. Life stops, it’s like the Big Meet, the Big Splash, the Big Game, the big series,” said Cal head coach Tony Sandoval. “It’s Cal-Stanford.”
Last year’s Big Meet saw the men prevail over Stanford, with the women just falling short of completing the shutout. This year the Bears will be more ready than ever, having outfitted their squad with even more quality athletes.
The women will be greatly helped with the addition of star freshmen Camryn Rogers and Brie Oakley. Rogers will be a valuable cog in the Cal field machine — she has consistently occupied the podium at every meet she has competed in thus far.
Joining Rogers, sophomore McKay Johnson will enter the meet coming fresh off Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Week honors for his performance in the shot-put at the Stanford Invitational. Johnson’s mark, which was set in Palo Alto, currently ranks him fourth in the NCAA.
“He’s really emerged this year,” Sandoval said. “He had a great indoor season. He hasn’t missed a step along the way and obviously a great future for the rest of his year.”
Stanford will be bringing its own squad of hitters. Leading the way will be redshirt senior Valarie Allman, who is one of the Cardinal’s best throwers — she’s also one of the nation’s best. Allman redshirted her last year in order to throw discus for the U.S. national team at the IAAF World Championships. Allman is elite not only at the discus, but also at the hammer, making her a multievent threat.
Women’s throws will be a true battle this weekend if Rogers, Allman and Cal senior Destiny Parker all throw at their best.
On the track side of things, the man to watch is Stanford senior Isaiah Brandt-Sims. Brandt-Sims won the 100-, 200- and the 4×100-meter at the last Big Meet and is looking to defend all three of his titles. The Cardinal is coming off of three top-three finishes in the aforementioned events at last week’s Stanford Invitational, and Brandt-Sims is looking stronger than ever heading into the Big Meet.
With most of the meets this season having been large invitationals, this weekend’s dual meet will have a more competitive feel to it. The Bears will need every point they can get and they’re going to have to look to their depth to provide a lot for them.
“Well it’s probably one of the oldest track meets in the United States, I think it’s No. 3 or 4,” Sandoval said. “It has a great history, over 120 years. It’s been a springboard for a lot of great athletes on both sides to be Olympians, NCAA Champions, things like that.”
Harshil Desai covers track & field. Contact him at